Wednesday, July 11, 2012

If You Build It, They Will Come

The South County Jazz Club's weekly jam session at Allegro Bistro in Venice has become a vibrant entertainment staple in southwest Florida, no matter that we are well into the steamy summer off-season. The jam session moved to Allegro in early March, and attendance has been strong, even after the northward exodus of the snowbirds.

Last night's jam was proof positive. Owner Nella Valenti had 110 reservations for the lounge, the adjacent bar area and even a smaller dining room that has no sight lines to the bandstand. That's right. More than 100 reservations for a jam session. That's pretty much unheard of - except at Allegro.

Regular pianist Tommy Goodman was joined by two stellar rhythm section substitutes: Don Mopsick on bass and Johnny Moore on drums. Jack Fanning's vibes rounded out the house band. The sitters-in included pianists Matt Bokulic and Robbie Rose, saxophonist Tom Ellison, clarinetist Bob Felman, trombonists Greg Nielsen and Jim Fitzpatrick, and drummers Randy Opela and Chuck Parr. A couple of singers rounded out the evening.

It's reached the point where even the musicians have to make reservations if they don't want to settle for standing all night - or seats far from the action. A full house  week after week makes for some interesting dynamics.

Let's see what happens when the snowbirds (including some musician regulars and quite a few ardent fans) return in autumn and winter. Mama Valenti can't knock down walls or build a loft. But there are likely to be lines out the door.

A full house trumps empty seats any time.

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